Harry and Meghan meet Moroccan girls during official tour

Harry and Meghan meet Moroccan girls during official tour
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan met Moroccan school girls as protests took place nearby.
3 min read
24 February, 2019
The couple also visited a classroom where pupils were practising their English (Getty)

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan on Sunday met with Moroccan schoolgirls in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, before heading to the capital for a reception.

Clutching British and Moroccan flags, the teenagers lined up to meet the royal couple during their visit to the town of Asni south of the tourist hub Marrakesh.

The British royals' trip, their last official foreign tour before becoming parents, was set to focus on initiatives promoting girls' education, women's empowerment and the inclusion of people with disabilities.

A heavily pregnant Meghan, with henna on one hand, accepted flowers from one of the girls in Asni while she and Harry chatted outside to a group from the programme Education For All Morocco.

The organisation runs free boarding houses to give girls aged 12 to 18 from the High Atlas region access to education, working with 185 teenagers in 2017.

"Wow, that's impressive!" Meghan told a girl who has ambitions to study astronomy, in an exchange filmed in a dorm room and posted on Twitter by Kensington Palace.

The couple also visited a classroom where pupils were practising their English, according to the royals' social media account.

A quarter of Moroccans aged 15 to 24 are out of work and not in training or education, according to official data for 2016, a figure which rises to 44 percent for girls and young women.

Asni is close to the mountainous area where two Scandinavian women were murdered in December and some British media have raised fears over safety during the royal tour.

But local diplomatic sources have dismissed concerns about security in Morocco, where on Thursday police dispersed protesting teachers with water cannon in the capital Rabat.

Post-Brexit trade 

The royals caught a local football match before flying back to the capital to attend a reception organised by the British embassy.

Ahead of their arrival in Rabat, a small group of demonstrators gathered in the city centre to demand wage hikes and the release of activists arrested in connection to a protest movement.

The rally was called for by a labour union which organised similar demos in some 20 cities across the kingdom.

"Medical provisions" had been made on the trip for Meghan, who is due to give birth in the spring, according to official sources.

The royal visit was described by Britain's ambassador to Rabat, Thomas Reilly, as an "important opportunity to promote the strong relationship between the British and Moroccan people".

London is aiming to replicate Rabat's trade deal with the European Union once Britain leaves the bloc, the diplomat added.

Bilateral trade is valued at £1.8 billion (2.1 billion euros) by the British government, although the economic partnership falls far short of that which Morocco has with Spain, Germany or France.

On Monday the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, will attend a horse riding programme for young disabled people in Rabat.

Harry and Meghan, who are being hosted by the Moroccan royal family, will also see a cooking demonstration and meet young entrepreneurs.